Were you born between 1945-1965? Have you ever injected drugs? If you answered yes to either of these questions you should be tested for Hepatitis C. While anyone that comes into contact with blood that contains the Hepatitis C virus can become infected, these two groups of people have the highest number of reported Hepatitis C infections. With this in mind, Wisconsin’s newly reported Hepatitis C cases have been on the rise. This is no different in Burnett County. Burnett County has seen a 550% increase in newly reported Hepatitis C cases from 2011 to 2015.
Hepatitis C virus impacts your liver. The liver plays an essential role in digestion and removing toxic substances from your body. With this in mind, Hepatitis C can cause lifelong problems including liver damage, liver failure, liver cancer, and even death! It is also the leading cause for liver transplants in the United States.
It is important to get tested to find out if you are infected. To get tested contact your doctor’s office to have a simple blood draw performed. Testing is necessary because many people do not experience symptoms. However, when symptoms are present they can include fever, fatigue, abdominal pain, nausea, and more. These symptoms can also be associated with other illnesses so it is important to receive a Hepatitis C test to rule out this virus. Finally, while a small number of those that are infected are able to fight off the virus on their own, there is some treatment available for the majority that cannot.
As always remember precautions when dealing with any type of blood spill, including dried blood. Gloves should always be worn and a solution of one part household bleach to 10 parts water to clean the blood is advised.
To find out more visit https://www.cdc.gov/hepatitis/hcv/
Submitted by: Brittany Fry, Burnett County DHHS Public Health
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